Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Pulp Cover: BLUE BOOK May 1935

Blue Book is one of the few pulps I actively seek to collect. Other magazines may catch my interest because of an artist or a particular author included within its pages, but if I ever collect an entire run of a magazine, it's likely to be Blue Book.

 Besides the fine reading most issues offer, Blue Book is a fine-looking package. Excellent interior illustrations were a given for this periodical, and the judicious use of spot color with those interior black-and-white illustrations were quite a surprise to my eyes the first time I opened up one of these issues. In this particular issue -- for May 1935 -- among the top-notch illustrators featured within are Henry Thiede, the remarkable Jeremy Cannon, Bert Salg, Herve Stein, Monte Crews, Alexander deLeslie, and the amazing Austin Briggs.

"The remarkable Jeremy Cannon" is actually Herbert Morton Stoops, long-time cover artist for Blue Book, and painter for the cover scan accompanying this post. For all, or most, of Stoops' interior b&w art for Blue Book, he signed off as Jeremy Cannon. I don't know the story that explains why Stoops used a different name for his interiors -- perhaps David Saunders or Mark Wheatley or another pulp-art scholar knows the scoop. I know that Stoops used his actual name when providing black-and-white line art for other publications, such as The Cruise of the Dry Dock by T.S. Stribling, Stories of the Sioux by Luther Standing Bear, and other books.

Stoops' painting for this issues features William Chester's Kioga, as this issue includes a section of the serialized Hawk of the Wilderness. Certainly the required azure that appeared on every cover of the magazine seemed at times a constraint to the artist, but Stoops demonstrates a mastery of color by use of a bright palette that sets off his figures, despite the rich blue that surrounds the composition.

Stoops' figures are always amazing to me. When I look at his work, I get the sense that he painted with the eye of a scultor: his figures convey mass, and the weight of his strokes coupled with the rounded lines of the figures lend a feeling of sculpture to the figures he depicts. One can discern this element in some of N.C. Wyeth's paintings, but Stoops' work nearly always imparts this impression when I look at it.


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